WELLS – Football is an emotional game. But sometimes you need to calm down to play your best.

Such was the case with Wells High’s top-ranked Western Class B football team Friday night.

After struggling through the first half, the unbeaten Warriors settled into their dominating ground game and pulled away from upstart Westbrook 23-6 in the semifinals at Warrior Memorial Field.

The victory lifted Wells to 10-0 and into a regional championship game rematch next weekend with Mountain Valley, the defending state champion. The day and time will be determined today.

Mountain Valley beat Wells in the Western Class B final last year 18-0, but the Warriors earned home field this time with a 28-12 win over the Falcons on Oct. 9.

“I’m so proud of the kids,” said Warriors Coach Tim Roche. “This is what they wanted and they worked their butts off to get it.”

This was a much closer game than the score indicated. Two plays were really the difference.

Westbrook was driving in the first quarter but fumbled at the Wells 7. Defensive back Joey Spinelli picked up the ball and ran 93 yards for a touchdown — the only scoring of the first half.

“I thought the play was over, then I saw the ball was lying around,” said Spinelli. “So I figured I’d pick it up and it was the most winded I’ve ever been after a play.”

The second play came with Wells leading 9-0 early in the fourth quarter. Westbrook tried a fake punt from its own 6. The run failed and Wells took over at the 15, needing only one play — a sweep by Doug McLean — to score and take a 16-0 lead with 7:54 remaining.

“The fake punt was my fault,” said Westbrook Coach Jeff Guerette. “It was a miscommunication. I’ll take the blame.”

Westbrook trimmed the lead to 16-6 with 4:56 remaining on a 34-yard scoring pass from Terry Webber to Aaron Duncanson following a rare fumble by Wells.

But Dylan Stevens of the Warriors recovered the onside kick and Wells finished it up when McLean ran 16 yards for his second touchdown of the game with 4:05 left.

Yet the Blazes, who finished 5-5 in their first season in Class B, pushed Wells throughout. The defense twice turned back the Warriors deep in Westbrook territory.

But once Wells got its running game going in the second half — gaining 172 of its 277 rushing yards — it was tough to stop.

“I think we were too keyed up (in the first half),” said Roche.

“We were pretty fired up. And we needed to calm down.”

Louis DiTomasso led Wells with 122 yards rushing. McLean added 102.

“Second half, Coach told us to relax and play football, fundamental football, and that was the difference,” said DiTomasso.

“We just got the blocks down and came out focused.”

Wells also stepped up on defense in the second half with two interceptions.

The Warriors held Westbrook to two first downs in the second half.

And now they’re heading back to the regional championship game.

“It feels good,” said DiTomasso. “We just want to get it this time.”

For Westbrook, it was a disappointing ending to a turnaround season.

“It stings right now,” said Guerette, “but I told the kids to leave here with their heads up.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH